Neighborhood Emergency Radio Project
  Neighborhood Emergency Radio Project | Ham Radio @ SAR City. | (white paper) What to Do When the Telephone, Cellphone and Internet Fails in a Disaster? | (option) Satellite Phones. | (option) MURS. | (option) FRS/GRMS Frequently Asked Questions | FRS/GMRS As Emergency Radios | FRS/GMRS Equipment. | Using FRS/GMRSs. | (option) CB. | (option) Ham Radio. | List:  Emergencies Hams Helped In | In Honor of Jerry Martin, W6TQF, and Reid Blackburn, KA7AMF | Ham Licensing. | Practice Ham Exams. | Ham Radio Classes. | Ham Exams. | Ham Radio in the Schools, Grants, and Emergency Communcations. | x | Legal Aspects of Emergency Communications | Links: Amateur Radio Emergency Communications Organizations | Volunteering, Legal Aspects and Pitfalls. | 2006, Ham Radio @ SoRo NC. | 2006, Ham Radio @ DONE Congress. | 2007, Ham Radio @ So. Central NC. | 2007, Ham Radio @ SAR City. | 2007, La Mirada Drill. | 2007, Culver City Drill. | Personal Preparedness. | Go-Kit. | Resources: Training for EmComm Operators. | Propagation.  | Antenna Restrictions and EmComm. | Understanding Antennas. | NVIS Antenna. | Unobstrusive Antennas. | Antennas Projects - HF. | Antenna Projects - VHF/UHF. | More Antenna Projects. | Safety and First Aid. | Mobile and Portable Stations. | Emergency Power. | Emergency Alerts. | Favorite Links  

A non-profit grassroots non-profit educational website dedidicated to help prepare neighbors and neighborhood leaders to deal the the failure in communications infrastructure (no electricity, no telephones, no cell phones, no internet....) after a major disaster.

What will you do when after a major disaster when your telephone, cellphone and internet does not work?  Explore this site and find out your options.     

In a major disaster the communications infrastructure will be one of the first parts of the infrastructure to collapse.  That disaster does not have to be a major earthquake or terrorism.  Our communications infrastructure, our entire society depends on the electrical power grid.  Most people take electricity for grant it.  They hear everyday in summertime in places such as California that we usually nearly miss rolling brownouts.  Even if a Californian has suffered through an electrical rolling brownout in which the power is purposefully turned off by authorities due to a shortage of the supply of electricity, most people are not willing to change their power usage habits.  They merely suffer and complain.   Managerial or employee error, or something taking down a key power transmission tower by accident, will cause a failure in the power grid just the same as an earthquake, terrorism or some other kind of disaster which will result in all of us being unable to use our telephones, cellphones and the internet for some period of time. 

This website is dedicated to neighbors and neighborhood organizations everywhere who want to be proactive in their disaster preparedness.  The particular problems of Los Angeles and it Neighborhood Councils are addressed.  However, the knowledge presented is applicable beyond LA.  Preparing for emergencies requires more than emergency supplies and even taking a disaster preparedness courses (such as the Community Emergency Response Training - C.E.R.T.).  These courses do not address the practical problem of what does one do when one does not know where one's spouse, children and parents are when a major disaster separates us from our loved ones.  The power will go out.  We will not be able to talk to them over cell phones or telephones, or even over the internet.  

We will also have trouble physically going to find them or them finding us, even if we know exactly where each other is, which may not be likely.  We may be injured.  If we are in a office building, leaving may be hazardous due to falling glass and debris from aftershocks.  The roadways will likely be buckled, jammed or have fallen powerlines, trees and debris.  How will be find out where our loved one are and if they need our help?  How will summon help to us if we or those around us are injured or trapped?   

Historically, neighbors, the government and relief agencies have depended on amateur radio operators.  Amateur radio is still a neighborhood's most valuable emergency communication resource!  It is also the most valuable resource to the government and relief agencies as well.  The amateur radio service was established to provide a technically trained pool of radio technicians/operators whose talents can be utilized  in times of disaster.  In Los Angeles we are losing 870 hams a year to death and non-renewal.  2.5 hams each day become unavailable to help their neighbors and their city communicate after a major disaster which will force the communications infrastructure of LA to collapse! 

The answer is not more radio amateurs in and by itself.  It takes several years to train a ham who can independently establish a communications link in an emergency.  Beyond this it, takes weekly check-in drills, continuing education and a weekend long yearly drill to maintain proficiency.  This fact has not been taken into account by misguided policy makers who have steadily reduced licensing requirements.  In 1984, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) started publishing both the questions and answers to its amateur radio licensing examinations.  Not only is it possible, most people pass licensing tests by memorizing the questions and answers.  Prior to this point, about 1/3 of license applicants passed their tests. 

To make matters much worse, in 1991, the FCC introduced a code-free Technician license, the license 60% of the so-called "hams" in LA have.  Up to this point International Morse Code proficiency was a barrier used to prevent most of people lack aptitude and dedication to becoming a true radio amateur.  More importantly, the International Morse Code is an emergency fail safe in emergencies.  The fact is that when modes of transmission such as voice, digital, teletype, TV fail because they require too much infrastructure, too much bandwidth and power, Morse code will be the distress signal through.  Steadily the licensing tests have been dumbed down.  The entry level Technician licensing exam is only 35 questions long.  Passing rates are in the 90th percentile.  In July 2006, the 35 multiple choice question Technician "license exam" no longer asks what frequencies Technicians may legally operate on.   Policymakers deemed that too many Technicians were failing these questions so they stopped asking them.    Also, the intermediate General license was dumbed down to 35 question and the code requirement was dropped from 13 words per minute to 5 words per minute. 

In a disaster, when the communications infrastructure has collapsed, and there will be no ham radio stores that people who have merely gotten licensed by memorizing the test depend on.  In fact these stores will likely be looted and may not ever reopen for being a retailer in a declining market is not good business.  Code-free hams will be unable to independently establish a communications link.  They do not have the ability to fix equipment and improvise.  In contrast the radio amateurs of the 1970s and before built their own equipment from scratch or from kits.  In our survey of a LA neighborhood, 55% of respondents, mostly code-free Technicians and a few Generals, said they did not know how to use their radios.  35% complained ham radio was too technical.  Code-free hams are limited in their capability to perform the primary mission of a radio amateur.  While it is commendable that many of these people are sincerely wanting to selflessly help their neighbors, neighborhoods and their city, it takes knowledge, skills and abilities that they simply never had.  

More Technicians with the same level of aptitude, in and by themselves, are not the answer.  Our research in fact shows, most Technicians are interested in emergency communications for themselves and their family rather than to help their neighbors, neighborhoods and city.  There is great responsibility in having an amateur radio license.  The privilege of transmitting carries with it the responsibility of not making harmful emissions.  In times of emergency, the amateur radio bands will be filled of emergency traffic to assist in disaster relief.  Someone who has a "license" but is like the majority of respondents in our study and does not know how to use their radio, if that radio was programmed by a ham radio store salesperson or a knowledgeable ham, gets on the air, they typically will have no clue what to do.  If they are not already a trained members of an amateur radio emergency communications organization, that may very well not only have no one to tell their distress message to, they may due to incompetency or worse, they selfishly do not care,  jam networks which are passing traffic essential to disaster recovery.  Ham radio is not a personal back-up 911 line.       

Another solution needs to be found for most neighbors.  They need a simple and inexpensive way to communicate in an emergency.  Ham radio is not appropriate for them.  It is these people the Neighborhood Emergency Radio Project (NERP) wants to help.  These people are strongly urged to buy inexpensive, easy-to-use, no-license required FRS walkie-talkies.   If enough neighbors living within range buy and use these walkie-talkies during an emergency they can communicate to their neighbors within a few blocks (varies with terrain and elevation).  If they need to communicate outside their neighborhood, they are urged to find a (real) ham, if one exists in their neighborhood.  If that person is willing and trained in emergency communications, that ham can assist their neighbors in communicating outside the neighborhood to amateur radio emergency communications organizations which work with the governmental agencies involved in disaster relief.  If no such ham is to be found, then Citizen's Band (CB) may be an option.  If they are affluent, or can pool resources together, a satellite phone may be an option.  These and other options which will be developed on this site will deal with the aforementioned problems.   


ARRL warns ham volunteers Red Cross is now requiring hams who help them to submit to not only a criminal background check but monitoring of their credit and liefstyle.  see: Volunteering, Legal Apsects and Pitfalls for Details. 

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